December 27, 2008

Synthetic Biology - Video

Pretty coloured viles, mobilizing hoards of students to expand the registry of parts, the latest grab on life conducted without definition, regulation or ethical debate, and in a garage basement near you. Here is the simplest description I've seen for Syn Bio.

Here is another video about Fab Labs: Mits outreach to mine the minds of the world to design molecular machines that can "make just about anything"

"As with several other innovative technologies a key issue concerns its definition : there are parallels with genetic engineering, but considerable differences in terms of precision (much greater). Without a precise definition, regulation will be difficult. Even with a clear definition, there is then a need to decide on the degree of novelty and, as a result, whether regulators should treat synthetic biology as path-dependent (using existing structures and processes) or path-breaking. Regulators must also decide whether synthetic biology constitutes a technology or a biological science. The regulatory pathway will depend on how these question are resolved."
".. there are also some potential risks and governance issues arising from the design of synthetic biological components. For example, there are ethical issues surrounding converting nature into market commodities and the ownership of what has previously been seen as a “public good”, as well as potential unintended harmful consequences for human health or the environment (e.g. due to accidental release) or deliberate misuse (e.g. recreation of known pathogens). Another risk may result from the fact that the technology is cheap and easy to acquire and a lot of the coding being developed and used is made public through the Internet : this could both decrease the potential for patent protection and increase the potential for an emerging hacker culture to exploit this public information.". Here


Jim Thomas said...

Hi Anne
This is part of a much much longer (2hr) debate between myself and Drew. If you would like to see the full discussion (farming came up a lot) it's online at . You can also download the podcast at I'd love to hear your comments on the full thing and what we might have missed.
Go well
Jim thomas
( and

anne said...

Hi! Amazing video debate Jim. Thanks for leading me to it. It is an honour to be asked for feedback. I'm overwelmed by the implication of the technology, how pressing it is and how little debate there is. I am going to write more in a full posting.